Beyond Pad Thai — Finding LA's Best Regional Thai Food

Thailand's regional cuisines. (illustration by Dan Carino)

Thailand's regional cuisines. (illustration by Dan Carino)

Among Thai people living in the United States, the phrase "Thai food" might inspire pride but it's the country's regional specialties that evoke yearning. Thankfully, Los Angeles has more Thai residents than anywhere in the world, except for Thailand. That means we've got a wealth of options beyond the usual soups and stir-fried noodle dishes. Not that there's anything wrong with those. We wouldn't kick a bowl of tom kha kai or a mound of pad see ew to the curb. They're delicious. But they represent only a sliver of Thailand's four major regional cuisines: central, southern, northern and Isaan (in the northeast).

Fortunately, a trip to Thai Town in East Hollywood or to North Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley (yes, newcomers, they're nowhere near each other and yes, we do that just to confuse you) offers endless possibilities for pleasing your palate.

Before we get into it, let's be clear: This is NOT a comprehensive list. Any list would be complicated by the fact that most Thai restaurants offer foods from multiple regions, especially when line cooks sneak a few signature dishes from home onto the menu. Consider this a nudge to try some northern chili dip, a spicy southern fish curry or some fermented sour pork . . .

For the full story by Quincy Surasmith follow the link below to